A 70-year-old man whose left-behind dentures linked him to a 2001 rape has now been indicted on the murders of two women whose bodies were found a month later in remote area of Frayser, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich announced on June 23.
A Shelby County Grand Jury this month indicted Thomas Maupin in the separate murders of the two women whose bodies were found in a weeded area near the dead-end of Old Millington Road south of Fite Road.
The body of Nancy Carol Alvis, 46, was found on Oct. 22, 2001. Her decomposed body was identified by dental records. She had been strangled weeks earlier, medical examiners determined.
While sheriff’s investigators were doing follow-up work the next day, they discovered the body of Patricia Cook Thornton, 37, in the same area. Medical examiners determined she had been stabbed and that she had been dead for about two days.
Maupin was among suspects at that time, but was not charged. He admitted often taking women to the dead end of Old Millington road to have sex for money. Maupin said he knew both women as frequent customers of Harpo’s, a Frayser bar on U.S. 51 not far from the crime scene.
In 2017, a review of a cold-case rape kit led to his indictment and guilty plea in the August 2001 stabbing and rape of a 31-year-old woman in the 1200 block of Thomas near Frayser Boulevard. A set of dentures collected and tagged by crime scene investigators was placed in the police property room with a sexual assault kit, including DNA evidence that became part of a backlog and was not tested until many years later.
In July of 2016, the dentures were taken to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for testing, and a partial DNA profile was developed that was consistent with that of Maupin.
His name also was imprinted on the dentures.
He pled guilty to the rape a year later and is serving an eight-year sentence at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, about 50 miles northeast of Nashville.
The solving of the cold-case rape led to a reopening of the unsolved murders.
Maupin came to Memphis after serving 12 years in Washington for the 1988 abduction and murder of a 6-year-old girl in Spokane. He was twice convicted and sentenced to 40 years, but the convictions were overturned on appeal and he was released in 1997 after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
The Memphis cases are being handled by Chief Prosecutor Eric Christensen of the DA’s Special Victims Unit and by District Attorney Abby Wallace, a former member of that unit, which prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse of child victims; rape and aggravated rape of adult victims, and abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults.